I enjoy political clichés-such as “at the end of the day,” “we need to have an adult conversation about...,” and especially, “we are at a crossroads.” Sometimes the latter is actually true. Sparta is at a crossroads and it will require not just a one-time choice of path, but a sustained push in the right direction if we are to manage inevitable development towards enrichment rather than decay. We are at a bow wave which could turn tidal: development push affecting our town as well as our neighbors in Sussex County. We are presently embroiled in the mega-warehouse debate, and if you have followed the months long process, it is clear that there may be significantly different views on development between residents and elected officials. There are also glaring questions as to how an ordinance has been adopted and the application review process.
As I hope you know, the municipal election for town council is a short time away. I have yet to see the candidates’ applications but they likely follow a pretty predictable pattern. Long list of their community activities, how long they have lived in Sparta, their desire to “give back,” etc. I did a similar thing when I ran a long time ago. I also have my long list of community activities, some of which I’m still involved with. When I ask myself how much all that had to do with being an effective council member, I would say virtually nothing. On the other hand, in my professional life I was obliged to learn how to manage groups of experts, facilitate teams to productive decisions, and deal with big problems and look for effective solutions. How much did this experience help me in being a council member? Answer: very greatly. So, during most times the former group will be just fine. A group of nice, smart people with the best of intentions is okay during a caretaking era. However, I think that at the moment we are in more of a crisis mode and the mega warehouse is the leading edge of a growing development pressure on our town which could have lasting effects and change our futures significantly. We need strong thoughtful experienced professionals to protect our future. No criticism intended whatsoever to the fine volunteers who are the lifeblood of our community, but I urge you to vote thoughtfully for Sparta’s future. I put it this way a few weeks ago:
If you have strong feelings about managing the development push and holding the line on Sparta’s character, I cannot emphasize enough the criticality of the coming election. Get the candidates on record as to their views on development, how they would oversee and direct the town to a desired future, and what experience and success they have in equally complex management efforts.